April is an odd month at Oxwich. Blustery wind, rain and sea mist all hamper our efforts, and if we don’t connect with a good passage of finches it can be hard going.
During the month we typically capture a higher proportion of re-trapped to new birds than at any other time of year, and it is often a good time for recapturing some of our old stagers.
Unique birds captured over four sessions between 2 and 15 April were:
Of particular interest were
- A chiffchaff ringed in May 2016, and recaptured on 13 April 2018. We know this bird is a male, and that it breeds on the marsh, as when it was captured in May (and again in June) 2016, it showed a cloacal protrusion. It was also captured at Oxwich in April 2017.
- Reed buntings originally ringed in March 2014 and in September and October 2015. There was a noticeable influx into the marsh in April, but we have not yet captured a female with a brood patch.
- Goldfinches ringed in March 2014 and in April 2015 (2).
- Six brambling. The latest of these was captured on 14 April. All of the birds were carrying reasonable fat deposits (scores of 4 or more using the British Working Group system), indicating preparation for movement.
- The mute swan, originally ringed at Goodrington Park, Torbay, Devon in January 2010, and resident on the marsh for the past few years (ring-read by Steve in the field).
Looking back at previous years’ data, it is clear that the first half of April 2018 hasn’t been as slow as it has felt at times …. The 238 birds processed compares to 163 (2017), 137 (2016), 127 (2015) and 126 (2014). Maybe it is the increasing number of capable pairs of hands that we have that has made things feel quieter.
The first grasshopper warblers of 2018 were noted reeling in the marsh on 13 April, but the first capture of the year remains elusive. A marsh harrier (female) is making regular use of the reed bed, and there are still a few snipe around. Reed and sedge warblers should be back at Oxwich by the next ringing session.
Thanks to all who have attended over the past two weeks: Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Kirsty Franklin, Richard Dann, Alex McCubbin, Edward O’Connor, Amy Schwartz, Stephen Vickers, Jo Conway, Sarah Davies, Bethan Dalton and Paul Aubrey.
|Male bullfinch (Bethan Dalton)|
|Male reed bunting (Bethan Dalton)|